Background: There are efforts to regulate Community Choice Energy programs at the CPUC and a hot issue right now is the PCIA (stands for Power Change Indifference Adjustment) charge on the bills of those who get their energy generation from a community choice program they are enrolled in. Few who see it are “indifferent” about it and it initially was going to be temporary. Lately, it has been moving higher and the CPUC seems to leaning towards the Investor Owned Utility position of keeping it indefinitely. It is like an “exit” fee since the customer in a CCE program has “left” a long-term contract the investor-owned utility made to generate the energy (nuclear? natural gas?) somewhere else. 350 Bay Area is a legal party to this rule-making on this issue since it began in July 2017.
There are numerous issues in this rule-making related to how a utility forecasts the amount of energy they will need for customers who have started or are contemplating starting a Community Choice Energy Program, as well as whether they follow their own forecasts or buy extra energy, and even if and for how much they have sold that energy elsewhere after they determined the ratepayers they bought it for are no longer needing it. Much of this information is not transparent and designated as confidential which further complicates things. There is the question of how much to incentivize the utilities not to buy excess by capping how long they can get reimbursed for energy they bought that turns out not to be needed (the Alternate Proposed Decision expresses no real desire to cap while the Proposed Decision, which we support, says cap it at 10 years) and whether utility investors/shareholders need to be on the hook for the overbuying.
Most Recently: On August 1, 2018, Administrative Law Judge Roscow issued a “Proposed Decision” (PD). Shortly thereafter, on August 14, CPUC Commissioner Peterman issued a competing “Alternate Proposed Decision” (APD).
While neither draft gets rid of the PCIA, the PD provides more balance to PCIA determination per statutory requirements and so is significantly less damaging to Community Choice programs than current methodologies. In contrast, the APD dramatically increases cost shifting from IOUs onto Community Choice. In the words of the California Community Choice Association (CalCCA), the APD would deal a “devastating blow” to Community Choice programs, both existing and planned.
The revised APD released October 5 corrects none of these flaws. See the redlined version and the clean version, here. Even worse, the CPUC effectively precluded any comment on these revisions, by releasing them during the so-called “quiet period” prior to the October 11 decision. Unless action is delayed, these changes will be rammed through without any comment from the Community Choice agencies. We are in agreement with the efforts of many cities and stakeholders to request a further delay and opposed to the Commissioners voting yes on any version of the Alternate Proposed Decision on Oct. 11th.
More details are going to be worked out in the second phase of this rule-making which 350 Bay Area will continue to be involved in as a Party.